Saffire Freycinet, Coles Bay, Tasmania © Saffire
The best luxury hotels and resorts in Australia
There are many incredible places to stay all across Australia, from opulent city hotels to welcoming wilderness lodges and island idylls.
By Mark Sariban
Whether you are looking for the ultimate in creature comforts as you encounter Australia’s iconic wildlife, like to be pampered in style in a big city or want to enjoy impeccable service on a remote island, there’s a luxe stay perfect for you. Here are 14 of the most luxurious hotels and resorts to check into while you’re travelling Down Under.
Park Hyatt Sydney
Great for: Uninterrupted views of the Sydney Opera House
Wake up to unforgettable views of Sydney Harbour and the dazzling ‘sails’ of the Sydney Opera House at Park Hyatt Sydney, a residential-style hotel with the ideal location on the waterfront in Sydney’s historic The Rocks precinct. The Park Hyatt offers the largest guest suite in the city – the two-bedroom Sydney Suite, complete with outdoor terrace, a dining table seating eight and its own sauna – but even the more modest guest rooms are generously sized, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to private balconies.
Drink in the dazzling harbour views from your room, look out over the water from a lounger beside the rooftop swimming pool, or step out of the lobby and onto a water taxi at Park Hyatt’s private wharf for a rock-star trip to a harbourside fine-dining restaurant.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Great for: Immersing in nature within driving distance of Sydney
An ultra-luxury conservation-focused resort, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is around a three-hour drive (or a short helicopter ride) from Sydney in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains Area. Settle into a freestanding stone and timber villa and take a dip in your private indoor lap pool before indulging in a treatment in the resort’s serene spa.
Once you’re refreshed and rejuvenated, take part in a group conservation session led by expert field guides. You can plant saplings to help restore bushland corridors for native wildlife, assist in conducting surveys of the adorable local wombats as part of the WomSAT research program, or join a nature drive to spot abundant kangaroos. Come evening, watch the sun set from the resort’s cavernous homestead before a memorable dinner at its signature restaurant, Wolgan Dining Room.
Great for: An exclusive luxury wilderness escape
A subtropical natural paradise east of the mainland, World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island boasts pretty beaches fringed by the southernmost barrier reef in the world, lush rainforests and looming volcanic mountains. Tucked away on the secluded southern end of this magical island, Capella Lodge is the most exclusive resort in a destination only a lucky few get to visit – just 400 tourists are allowed on Lord Howe at any one time.
Gaze out at the twin peaks of Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird and beyond to a sheltered lagoon and the South Pacific Ocean from your room, from the lodge’s infinity pool or while dining on expertly prepared seasonal produce at Capella Restaurant.
Hyatt Hotel Canberra
Great for: An atmospheric stay in Australia’s capital
Step back in time at Hyatt Hotel Canberra, a grand hotel of Art Deco and Australian Colonial architecture surrounded by manicured gardens in the heart of the nation’s capital. Built in the 1920s as a home away from home for politicians and bureaucrats – including a serving Australian prime minister – the Hyatt Hotel Canberra is across the road from Old Parliament House and a three-minute drive from the seat of federal government at Australian Parliament House.
Check into a spacious Diplomatic Suite to enjoy calming views of the hotel’s landscaped gardens before drawing a spa tub for two in the Italian marble-lined master bathroom. Indulge in a decadent high tea in The Tea Lounge, cosy up to the open fire in the Speaker’s Corner Bar, or enjoy drinks on a warm summer night in The Garden outdoors bar.
Great for: A decadent stay in one of Australia’s great cities
Soaring above the surrounding towers of Melbourne, Ritz-Carlton Melbourne occupies the upper floors of a recently built skyscraper, making it Australia’s tallest hotel. Take an express elevator to the 80th-floor Sky Lobby to take in panoramic views of the city as you check in. You can stay in one of the generously sized standard rooms or splash out on the penthouse-style Ritz-Carlton Suite, which features a luxe bathroom with an over-sized soaking tub and expansive dining and living areas.
Watch the city far below come alive over breakfast at The Ritz-Carlton Lobby Lounge, and toast a memorable day of sightseeing with a handcrafted cocktail at the hotel’s intimate Cameo bar before taking in the glowing sunset over a meal of local seasonal produce at the hotel’s Atria restaurant.
Great for: Gourmet indulgence and outdoors adventures
One of Australia’s most iconic luxury lodges, Saffire Freycinet sits outside of spectacular Freycinet National Park, northeast of Hobart. Check into one of the 20 suites fanning out across coastal bushland and enjoy mesmerising views of the Hazards Mountains and Great Oyster Bay. Then make your way to Saffire’s striking main lodge, with its organic design inspired by the form of a stingray, to take a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows for dinner at Palate restaurant. Here you’ll feast on degustation menus featuring famously fresh Tasmanian seafood and produce and paired with excellent local wines.
Settle in for days of fascinating included experiences, such as relishing oysters fresh from the bay at Freycinet Marine Oyster Farm, meeting Tasmanian devils, or forging a connection to Country with an Aboriginal guide. Or opt for signature experiences such as a cruise to postcard-perfect Wineglass Bay.
Great for: A relaxing break in premium wine country
You’ll enjoy a sense of relaxed luxury as well as unparalleled access to one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious wine regions when you stay at The Louise. This boutique lodge sits among vineyards in the heart of Barossa Valley wine country, an hour’s drive or a short hop by helicopter from Adelaide. Each of The Louise’s roomy Mediterranean villa-style suites features an open fireplace and outdoor rain shower, and looks out over rows of vines planted with shiraz grapes from a private courtyard.
Many of the lodge’s staff are long-time locals with deep ties to the Barossa’s winemakers, providores and chefs – be sure to pick up insider tips when you dine at the signature restaurant Appellation or the Contour casual diner before you head out to explore the excellent cellar doors and restaurants dotted across the valley.
Southern Ocean Lodge
Great for: Enjoying fine food and incredible wildlife
Southern Ocean Lodge, on the wildlife wonderland of Kangaroo Island, is set to re-open its doors in late 2023. Painstakingly rebuilt and reimagined by its owners and original architect, the new-look Southern Ocean Lodge has been designed with environmental sustainability at its core. The 25 guest suites spreading out from the main lodge have been reoriented to take in even more of the sweeping ocean views and coastal scrub, while a new four-bedroom owner’s residence-style Ocean Pavilion sits away from the other buildings.
You’ll still enjoy warm, relaxed hospitality, with all-inclusive meals featuring South Australian and Kangaroo Island produce to savour as you soak up the calming vista of waves endlessly rolling in from the wild Southern Ocean.
Como The Treasury
Great for: A refined stay in the heart of Perth
Occupying three grand 19th-century former government buildings, Como The Treasury is a character-filled retreat in the very centre of Perth. The hotel’s understated, ultra-luxe interior design is the work of the late Perth-born Kerry Hill, the architect of numerous Aman Resorts. Book the Como Suite, the largest offering at the hotel, for a gracious space complete with a dining room seating six and views of the Swan River from the bedroom. Or opt for a light-filled Heritage Balcony Room with tall French doors leading out to a sandstone balcony overlooking handsome St Georges Cathedral.
Whichever room you choose, you’ll want to indulge in a signature massage at the hotel’s Como Shambhala Urban Escape and secure a table at the rooftop fine-dining restaurant Wildflower, which creates its menus around the six seasons of the local Noongar Aboriginal calendar.
El Questro Homestead
Great for: Getting back to nature in an ancient wilderness
Bush luxury doesn’t get much more luxurious than El Questro Homestead, a 10-suite clifftop lodge within the vast El Questro Wilderness Park in the Kimberley. An oasis of opulence in one of the wildest of wilderness regions, the homestead looks over the placid Chamberlain River from the top of a dramatic burnt-orange cliff. Check into the Chamberlain Suite, the adults-only homestead’s premier suite, and watch the sun set over the gorge from the wrap-around verandah. Or book a freestanding Cliff Side Retreat and enjoy the incredible views from your feather-topped bed before joining fellow guests for a three-course dinner with paired wines.
Once you’ve soaked up the views, take a guided walk through the Kimberley’s ancient wilderness, join bird-watching and bush culture tours, cruise the Chamberlain River and enjoy exclusive use of the magical Zebedee Thermal Springs – all of these experiences, and more, are included in your stay.
Great for: Connecting to the heart of the Red Centre in luxury
Seeing the iconic monolith Uluru and the giant domes of Kata Tjuta, in the Red Centre of Australia, is on many travellers’ bucket lists. At Longitude 131°, a luxury lodge on the edge of the Northern Territory’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you can watch Uluru famously change colours as the sun sets from the outdoor lounge of your pavilion – or from the comfort of your bed.
You’ll also enjoy uninterrupted views from Uluru over to the domes of nearby Kata Tjuta from vantage points across Longitude 131°, including Dune House, home to the lodge’s restaurant and bar, and the elevated Dune Top platform, set away from the main lodge. It’s the perfect base for immersion into this ancient place as well as expeditions to the Ernabella Arts Centre in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, whose artists’ work is displayed throughout the lodge.
Great for: Seeing the Whitsundays in serene style
With direct flights from some of Australia’s capital cities to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, it’s easy to get to the ultra-luxury resort qualia. Convincing your travelling companion to leave this idyllic resort may prove to be more difficult. Make yourself at home in a breezy Windward Pavilion and take in the sweeping views of the Coral Sea from the terrace loungers or the private plunge pool. Or opt for the exclusive Beach House, an airy, open-plan retreat with a generous entertaining and dining areas, and a separate one-bedroom guesthouse.
From qualia it’s a short scenic flight or a leisurely boat ride to some of the Great Barrier Reef’s prettiest spots, including nearby Whitehaven Beach, famous for its powdery white sand, and Heart Reef.
Great for: Savouring a remote part of the Great Barrier Reef
An hour-long charter flight from Cairns, Lizard Island sits at the far-northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Take an airy beachfront suite at this sublime island resort and gaze out to sea from your balcony daybed, retreat to the cliff-top Villa or the super-private Pavilion, or take over the three-bedroom House at Lizard, a striking three-floor lodge on a secluded peninsula away from the main resort.
Explore the bushland of the surrounding national park, snorkel the fringing coral reef from one of the many beaches on the island, or linger over a private picnic on your own secluded strip of sand. Head out on a boat to slip under the waves and marvel at the world-famous Cod Hole dive site, or try your hand at big-game fishing at nearby Ribbon Reefs.
Silky Oaks Lodge
Great for: Unwinding and relaxing in a lush rainforest
Reset and refresh at the stylish Silky Oaks Lodge, nestled in the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest just north of Cairns. Choose a spacious Billabong Suite, which looks out over Mossman River high among the trees, ease into the hammock on the outdoor deck and lose track of time listening to the soundtrack of birdcalls and the burbling waterway. Secure the incredible two-bedroom Daintree Pavilion and you can look out into the rainforest from the expansive covered deck or the inviting infinity pool.
While away blissful days being pampered at the Healing Waters Spa and dining on fresh tropical ingredients straight from the lodge’s Kitchen Garden. Venture out to learn about the Traditional Owners’ connection to the rainforest with an Aboriginal-guided Dreamtime walk through Daintree National Park’s Mossman Gorge, or join a safari to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef.